Album Review :
The Letter Black - Hanging On By a Thread
Band: The Letter Black
Title: Hanging On By a Thread
Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Reviewer: Joshua Clark
- Fire With Fire
- Hanging On By a Thread
- There’ll Come a Day
- My Disease
- I’m Just Fine
- Best of Me
- All I Want
- Moving On
- More to This
- Care Too Much
I first came across the music of The Letter Black on an off tour date for The Awake and Alive Tour, where Decyfer Down and The Letter Black where performing in late 2009. Never hearing the band my friend and I were thinking this would just be same mediocre pop/rock band. Obviously we had no clue and the band sported a heavier rock or radio rock sound. I was rather impressed as they put on a pretty solid show and got to play a longer set this particular night, since there were only two bands playing. Anyway without giving a whole review of that concert, I was impressed with their show and music. Thus leading me to pick up their EP that night and that left me at least interested in getting their full-length album when it released this past May.
For those who don’t know The Letter Black use to go by Breaking the Silence when they formed in 2006 and released their debut Stand. Later down the road they switched their name when they found a mainstream band with a similar name. They then switched over to The Letter Black shortly after being signed to Tooth & Nail. The band released their EP Breaking The Silence in late September of 2009. The Letter Black released their full length Hanging On By a Thread on May 4th, 2010.
Right off the bat you can run rampant with comparisons of this female fronted hard rock band to Flyleaf, Fireflight, or Paramore. Which it’s not a far stretch to say this band has a fair number of similarities to them. The Letter Black remind me of a mix of a female fronted Pillar, Decyfer Down, and Skillet but they don’t pull off the sound as effectively, since I prefer any of those bands over The Letter Black.
Due to this large number of comparisons it makes it really hard for this band to stand out on their own. While musically they sound pretty tight and pull it off pretty well, this simply isn’t their own sound. They remind you of any other hard rock band and they don’t necessarily pull it off better. It’s fine for what it is and I can’t say I don’t enjoy it, but it’s been done better.
As far as vocals are concerned I think Sarah Anthony has some pretty solid pipes. She has a fairly strong voice, with a decent range that is sprinkled with a few screams here and there. Her husband Mark Anthony adds in some background vocals that mix well with his wife’s. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing him lead a few of these songs and Sarah taking background duties. His voice isn’t anything special but he does have a solid rock voice and that is fitting for this music. This is the one unique feature the band has going for them; the female/male vocal duo is one of the band’s main strengths.
Lyrically the band offers up a real positive message, relying on Christ, issues with relationships, addictions, or everyday troubles. While positive and having a number of topics teens can relate to a lot of these messages have been heard before. But it doesn’t hurt to here them again since they are valuable messages.
The majority of the songs on the album are filled with hard rock riffs and stick to a typical hard rock formula. With the exception of the three rock ballads, “There’ll Come a Day,” “Best of Me” and “More To This.” These tracks do add some needed variety but don’t really stand out as anything special. Especially with “Best of Me” being the strongest and already showed up on their EP Breaking the Silence. The strongest rock tracks were “Hanging On By a Thread” “Believe,” “I’m Just Fine,” “All I Want,” and “Moving On.” The sad part is 2 out of the 5 of these tracks also showed up on the EP. Otherwise the other tracks aren’t bad but they just all kind of have the typical rock guitar riffs and average drumming to carry you on this hard rock ride. So as long as you like those types of songs there is no reason you won’t enjoy ever song on the album. If that isn’t up your alley you may be better off with getting a couple of the highlights.
Overall: this is a pretty average album and I had actually enjoyed their live show more than this studio release. They had a pretty fun and energetic show but that unfortunately didn’t really carry over to this release. Even though there are some negative aspects this is a decent album, it’s just not the best of the genre. If you enjoy any form of hard rock there is likely something you will grab hold of here though. I was impressed how much I popped this in the rest of the year and how much I actually have come to like it. But even so, there are other bands I would turn over to instead; that pull off this particular style better. I’m just waiting to see the band further this style to be something of their own; allow them to rise above the hard rock crowd. Otherwise for now they are going to be standing in the shadow of Red, Decyfer Down, Flyleaf, or Skillet.